She doesn’t whisper my name anymore when we make love. I can’t even remember the last time we shared sleeping space. Like cobwebs that cover unused places, so is my memory of love with her.
The devil has no free gift. I should have known that. I should have known that for every stolen kiss of nectar, i would pay a price worth its weight in gold. I should have known that for every tremulous crescendo reached in the back seat of my car, i would descend a thousand depths.
Water from a stolen cistern. I exchanged my wife’s anthill colored skin with its maps of our years together for youthful supple flesh. I have known heaven in her arms. I have known hell out of it.
She is still with me because she loves the children. I am thankful for that. If we didn’t have them, she would be gone faster than spit dries in the Sahara. When she looks at them, i am reminded of the light that was my wife before i extinguished it.
We sleep in the same room. Two beds so far apart, i could have been in another room. She insists we keep up appearances for the children’s sakes. I cannot bear the thought of life without her. My conscience mocks me. ‘ You should have thought of that before you succumbed like a goat in heat’
I have tried almost every way to win her back. To light up her eyes again. I have failed. Still i try. Flowers everyday. I find them in the bin when i get home. I have sent entreaties to plead my case. Everything has failed…
Nifemi comes home from school. He runs to me to be lifted and i lift him up effortlessly. He tells me about his school play. He plays one of the masquerades, he tells me. I need to buy him a get-up. For the first time in a long time i smile. It takes a while but i find a mask similar to that one Nifemi the elder wore to drive Ihuoma into my arms. I buy two masks. one for my son. One for me…
I call her home the next day. Its an emergency i say. I refuse to say more. I wait till she comes marching in. Ready to throttle me if any harm had come to her children and i refused to tell her over the phone. That’s when she finds me at the dining table. The mask in my hands. I offer it to her. Tears fills her eyes. My wife remembers.
She turns around to leave. I watch her go. I have run out of words. I have failed again. I had hoped she would see beyond the concealment. The charade of manliness that has driven us farther than oceans could have. This disguise of deceit, of pain, of distrust, of adultery. I offered her the masquerade with the hope that she would see through it all to that boy that loved her from the first. I had hoped for the magic of Nifemi again…
Night came and she didn’t come home.
I put the children to bed. And then sat on the couch, mask in hand, to wait…
P.S To understand this, I’d refer you to Masquerades 1.
I hope its worth it…The picture is from the Calabar Carnival 2009
Song of the Day: John Legend – Everybody Knows